SERVING THE LORD BY RELYING ON THE INNER SOURCE OF LIFE
This one thing is true: the extent to which a person gives place to the Lord’s life is the extent of his usefulness in the Lord’s hand. Let me share a little testimony. What I am now is altogether different from what I was when I was a boy. In my childhood I was timid and secluded. I did not like to be with others but preferred to sit by myself, always avoiding others. In school I spoke very little with others. I did not enjoy participating in activities, and I had nearly no contact with others. At home when guests came, I would find an opportunity to slip away because whenever I saw people, I would blush and my lips would tremble when I spoke. That was the natural me. One day, however, the Lord called me to rise up and speak for Him, and from that day on I consecrated myself daily, received dealings daily, and learned to live in the Lord daily. In 1947 while I was in Shanghai, I met a brother who said to me, “Brother Lee, when you were young, you must have been a very popular student and a skillful speaker.” I replied, “Brother, you are wrong. If you were to go and ask my schoolmates, you would find out that I am altogether different from what I was when I was young. It is like there are two different persons.”
Regardless of what you are in your natural man, when you are willing to give place to the life of Christ, then He will live out of you. He will change your being and make you different, even absolutely different, from what you were before. Formerly you disliked activities, but now He wants you to be active. You may have disliked quietness, but now He wants you to be quiet. You may not have liked to speak, but now He wants you to speak. You may not have liked to contact people, but now He wants you to contact people. He will change you thoroughly.
In the early days nearly every time I stood up to speak for the Lord, I had stomach problems, and the pain was indescribable. All I could do was pray and consecrate myself, and then the next time I spoke, I would have to pray and consecrate again. It was by being desperate that in the Lord’s hand I was able to break through. This is where our usefulness is. Usefulness is not something we have naturally nor something we have by birth. Rather, it is only when Christ finds a way, an opportunity, and an outlet to come out of us that we will be useful.
An elderly sister often says to me, “Brother Lee, it seems that you can never finish speaking. After you speak, you have more to speak.” Actually, the fact that I can be here is altogether because of the Lord’s mercy and grace. I have so many things to speak about because within me there is a source—the boundless source of the eternal life. The only question is whether or not we will limit Him. If we limit Him, we are finished, and we have nothing. What we have learned in our mind is very limited, but the source of life within us is unlimited.
I can testify to you that many times what I spoke on the platform was something that I had not considered even half an hour before the meeting. I have found a secret in speaking. The secret is that every time I am going to speak, I must have a strong consecration. I pray, “O Lord, here is a person who perhaps has been a little loose at other times, but at this time he wants to absolutely place himself in Your hands, absolutely put himself aside, and absolutely forget himself. Lord, may You come forth. May You work and come out of this person.” Sometimes I would do this half an hour before the meeting, but at other times it was not until after the singing of the first hymn that someone would come to tell me, “Brother Lee, please speak.” At such a time what could I say? I had to immediately put on the girdle—not the outward girdle but the inward girdle—and say to the Lord, “Lord, I am in Your hands. Please come forth.” It was in this way that the words began to flow out and the message was released.
Therefore, we serve the Lord not by relying on ourselves but by depending on the One who is within us. Our capital and our resources are not the natural things we possess. Rather, our capital and our resources are the life within us, which is the living Christ, the boundless Christ. The problem is that although we have such a Christ, we do not give Him any ground. We have such a life, yet we do not give this life any opportunity to grow. We do not consecrate ourselves absolutely to the Lord, and we have not been dealt with and broken thoroughly. Because we do not allow Him to have the ground and the opportunity to grow, He cannot come out, and therefore we cannot minister to people. All our service hinges on His life. What we minister is His life, and the strength to minister is also His life. Once He has gained a place in us, we will become useful, and we will be able to minister, to serve. How wonderful this is!
(How to Be Useful to the Lord, Chapter 6, by Witness Lee)